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Getting to know Rawi Hage

by Archives October 6, 2009 94 comments

Speaking at Concordia, award-wining author and alumnus Rawi Hage was honoured, particularly by the Lebanese in the audience, for his work about the 1970s Lebanese civil war.
Hage, appearing comfortable and casual with his arm slung over the back of his chair, answered questions and accepted praise about his life and writing.
Fellow members of the Lebanese community expressed their congratulations and deep thanks, showing the profound impact his work has had on them as well as on their shared cultural history.
Hage was grateful for their compliments, joking that the only other Lebanese to congratulate him before that night was his mother.
The author spent part of the evening describing the experience of writing his first novel, De Niro’s Game. The book focuses on civil-war-ravaged Lebanon, something Hage experienced first-hand.
“I don’t recall the state of mind I was in. It was all so fast, a blur,” he said. “It must have been some kind of emotional reaction or blockage. But since writing the book, I think less about the civil war, so it must have done something good.”
Cockroach is his latest work, and is set in Montreal where he now lives.
Hage earned his B.A, not in creative writing, but in photography at Concordia.
He was pointed in explaining his disassociation from the creative writing program. “I don’t come from creative writing,” he said when asked why he does not use quotation marks. “I don’t think quotes are necessary. It’s not experimental. It’s just laziness.” When host Peter Webb mentioned that creative writing students were in the audience, Hage dropped his head and said, “Oh no.” Laughter erupted when he then put on his glasses to scan the audience, saying in an almost sinister tone, “Oh yes, I can see them.”
Hage is presently at work on his next novel, the details of which he did not reveal.

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